As the country commemorates National Children’s Month in November, we need to look at some issues, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, which may have aggravated these issues.
There is a study jointly conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and UNICEF which aims to inform the development of prevention programs, policy advocacy, and/or review of existing policies by government and key stakeholders that respond to the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) in the Philippines.
The study aims to broaden the understanding about the different modalities on how OSAEC is operationalized, patterns, and trends of Information and Communications Technology-facilitated child sexual abuse (e.g. perpetrator initiates contract through the chat room and abuses the child offline) and online sexual exploitation of children in the country (i.e. live streaming, production, distribution, and possession of child abuse materials).
The study seeks to explore and establish findings on the following aspects:
Role of the private sector on OSAEC
Experiences and challenges encountered by law enforcement agencies
Describe the characteristics and effects of OSAEC on victims
Describe the characteristics of offenders.
OSAEC has a bulletin board on Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children.
What is Child Abuse?
Republic Act 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act” defines Child Abuse as maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes any of the following:
Psychological and physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse, and emotional maltreatment;
Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades, or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being;
Unreasonable deprivation of his basic needs for survival, such as food and shelter; or
Failure to immediately give medical treatment to an injured child resulting in serious impairment of his growth and development or in his permanent incapacity or death.
Child Pornography is considered as one of the worst forms of “child abuse” and a modern form of trafficking in persons which poses negative psychosocial effects on its victims.
Through the years, child sex offenders have managed to upscale platforms for commercial sexual exploitation of children along with the revolution of the internet and technological advances.
At present, this crime has evolved into complex forms which is now most recently and commonly termed as the “Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children”.
OSAEC is a complex phenomenon that needs to be tackled from a multi-level and multi-disciplinary approach through the concerted effort of different government units at the national and local levels, non-government agencies, international agencies and organizations, and inter-agency councils.
According to the proposed substitute bill on OSAEC, OSAEC refers to the use of the internet which may be combined with offline components as a means to perpetrate sexual abuse or exploitation of children, or produce, disseminate or possession of child sexual abuse or exploitation materials.
OSAEC as a trending form of child abuse (components).
The OSAEC as a trending form of child abuse includes the following:
Child Sexual Exploitation Material. Any visual or audio (and/or any combination thereof) representation of minors under the age of 18 engaged in sexual activity or of minors engaging in lewd or erotic behavior recorded, produced and/or published to arouse the viewer’s sexual interest (Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines: Analysis and Recommendations for Governments, Industry, and Civil Society, 2020.
Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). As imagery or videos which show a person who is a child and engaged in or is depicted as being engaged in explicit sexual activity (Inhope, 2021).
What enables OSAEC?
The following information enables OSAEC:
Poverty is still the enabling factor for all forms of Violence Against Children including OSAEC.
Free online connectivity, the widespread use of cellphones, the irresponsible use of technology, and insufficient computer literacy of children and their parents pose threats of exposure to OSAEC-related activities.
Furthermore, online payment facilities offered by banks and electronic payment services by mobile phone companies are surfacing as the new mode of monetary exchange for the conduct of OSAEC-related activities (National Study on OSAEC, 2021).
Certain cultural beliefs and social norms about OSAEC that there’s is “No touch, No harm” done to a victim-survivor (National Study on OSAEC, 2021).
Limited resource (financial, human, and logistical) resources for OSAEC.
Child Safeguarding Tips.
DON’T GIVE your home address, telephone number, or school name to anyone you meet on the internet.
DON’T SEND anyone your picture, credit card, or bank details.
DON’T GIVE your password to anyone, even your best friend.
DON’T HANG around a chat room if someone says or writes something which makes you feel uncomfortable or worried.
DON’T RESPOND to nasty suggestions or rude emails or postings
DON’T PRETEND to be anyone you are not.
DO ASK your parents or caregiver first if you plan to meet someone you’ve met online and arrange a meeting only in a public place.
DO TELL your parents or caregiver first if you see bad languages or distasteful pictures while you are online.
DO REMEMBER that if someone makes you an offer that is too attractive like getting rich instantly or seeing a famous celebrity, the offer is most likely a trap.
Let’s protect the children under any and all circumstances.